The tide is shifting. For some time now, it has been coming in and we are challenged more and more in how to respond. The church has traditionally thought of going out on mission overseas, but now the nations have come all around us—at least into our society, but into our churches, not so much. So what are we to do?
Jesus calls us as his people: “As you go therefore, make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). When we think about it, this call to disciple others in following Jesus is applicable to us whether we’re going about our business here in Australia, or whether we’re going out to the furthest reaches of the world. The emphasis is on making disciples.
This call is not only for us to share amongst ourselves. God’s heart is ultimately for the nations to glorify him together in vibrant worship. And that’s the picture we see in the new heaven and earth:
“Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, were standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9).
With this glorious vision for our future in mind, we look around us and see the multiethnic environments in which we live, work and study. And yet we think: if God desires people from all these nations around us to follow Jesus and worship him, then it does not make sense that, according to the National Church Life Survey 2021, approximately three quarters of churches in Australia are monocultural.
Why is this? And what should we do about it?
Community and Partnerships Director, Lisa Bateup, reflects on how Interserve can use its skills and knowledge to support the work of God’s people:
“Making disciples of all nations is the calling of the church.”
“Yet intercultural ministry requires a great deal of intentionality to produce lasting change. It will not happen without the active involvement of church leadership.
“So we’re seeking to partner with the church in their ministry, to better reflect the local community and grow their engagement with what God is doing around the world.
“We’re seeking long-term partnerships with the local church that enable us to journey with them in their discipleship and outreach activities.”
As we speak, this church engagement initiative is building a team to work closely with a small number of churches around the country in 2023 to support their work. They are seeking church leaders to be part of an advisory group to provide insight into where they would value support in local and global missions engagement.
“God is the one bringing the nations to Australia and working out his purposes as the country becomes more ethnically and culturally diverse,” Lisa said.
“We have the privilege and responsibility of joining in the work he is already doing. This will both revitalise our churches and raise up workers for the harvest field around the world.”
So as the tides continue to come in, and people from many nations cross the seas to live amongst us, the question is raised to each one of us and our local churches: as we go, how can we join in God’s work of making disciples of all nations?